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Curtin develops security breakthrough

Media release

Curtin University of Technology and transit security company Digital Technology International (DTI) have commercialised a groundbreaking new security software system aimed at making public spaces safer.

The new company, Virtual Observer Pty Ltd, is commercialising the system, known as Virtual Observer, the software for which has been developed by Professor Svetha Venkatesh and Dr Stewart Greenhill, of Curtin’s Institute of Multi-sensor Processing and Content Analysis (IMPCA).

Professor Venkatesh said Virtual Observer replaced traditional fixed cameras with mobile cameras and a cutting edge software system, allowing for a greater level of coverage and flexibility than traditional static surveillance systems.

“This sort of technology helps to create a safer environment through the use of camera systems fixed to the top of vehicles, collecting information 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

“The software uses GPS technology to capture the location of the vehicle at a particular time, as it moves around, matching that data with the footage taken by the vehicles cameras.”

Professor Venkatesh said Virtual Observer could be used for crime prevention, policing, intelligence collection, counter terrorism and to assist in the assessment of insurance claims and court actions.

Curtin’s Director for Research and Development – IP and Commercialisation, Rohan McDougall, said the Virtual Observer technology allows it to bring together different streams of geographically related data in an efficient, user-friendly manner, making it a must-have for public security and transport agencies.

“Trials by Curtin University’s Security team have shown that the system can work in a robust environment, providing coverage that no fixed camera system can match for a similar cost,” he said.

Virtual Observer Chief Executive Officer Justin Davies said the Virtual Observer solution provides a quantum leap in security technology.

“We see a strong demand here, not only from public transportation companies, but also police forces and other security organisations around the world,” he said.

“Due to various terrorism events we have seen a huge proliferation of closed circuit television camera networks.

“However, the capacity of these networks to catch criminal or other activities is often inadequate.

“Virtual Observer offers a far greater level of flexibility and coverage than static surveillance systems.

We can also leverage the existing investment in static camera networks by incorporating that data into Virtual Observer to provide a unified view of the data from both the mobile and static networks.

“Eventually we may see these systems built onto all emergency service and public transport vehicles, offering a strong net of surveillance in busy areas throughout our major cities.

“The system also helps to protect personal privacy.

“Instead of having people constantly monitoring footage taken by the cameras, it is only available by making a request of the system.”